it now links three Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and the only direct US link from Changsha) to seven destinations in Canada and the USA, with flights on seven of its nine city pairs being introduced in the past four years. In Europe it has also grown by adding new links to Manchester, Paris, Prague and Rome in the past two years, including non-stop links from ‘regional’ cities such as Chongqing and Xi’an.

Capacity growth

The long-haul growth is also spreading among some of its lesser-known Chinese interests. Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines have both introduced widebody capacity in the past 12 months and launched or are planning intercontinental flights from Beijing’s Capital International Airport, Chongqing’s Jiangbei International Airport, Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan International Airport and Tianjin’s Binhai International Airport into Europe, North America and Oceania. Capital Airlines has also recently received CAAC approval for a licence to serve the Beijing-Mexico City market. These two airlines also have notable

domestic and regional operations within mainland China and together with a number of smaller carriers provide HNA Group with interests across the country. This has even led to the formation of a new low-cost alliance, U-FLY. On the passenger side the businesses comprise Fuzhou Air, Grand China Air, Lucky Air, Urumqi Air and West Air, with Yangtze River Express and Deer Jet expanding its reach into the freight and executive arenas. In May 2016, Air Chang’an relaunched

market positions and excellent management teams,” says Adam Tan, president of HNA Group.

Top tier

Hainan Airlines remains the flagship and best known operator of the group and is now firmly established among China’s top tier of airlines alongside the likes of Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. After launching flights transporting

tourists to Haikou, often dubbed China’s Hawaii, from Beijing it now operates from bases in eight Chinese cities (Beijing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Haikou, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Urumqi and Xi’an) to a network of around 100 destinations, including a growing international route map that spreads into Europe, North America and Oceania. The airline has doubled in size since 2008 when it first introduced flights to North America on the Beijing-Seattle city pair and

HNA Group chairman Chen Feng

domestic operations from Xi’an’s Xianyang International Airport hub in Shaanxi, while a newly established joint venture with the Guilin municipal government (in partnership with Guilin Tourism Development), Guilin Airlines, took to the air with its debut flight in late June 2016 linking Liangjiang International Airport in the scenic Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with domestic points in mainland China. The start-up follows the formation

last year of Guangxi Beibu Gulf Airlines (or GX Airlines), a joint venture between Tianjin Airlines and the Guangxi Beibu Gulf Investment Group. There is more to come. In October this year Ningbo Airlines is set to fly from Ningbo’s Lishe International Airport, serving a major city in the

Yangtze River Delta region and the second

largest in Zhejiang Province. As per other start-ups, HNA Group will partner with local state-owned companies to invest around $155 million in the low-cost carrier which plans to operate domestic and short-haul international flights within Asia. In the former British colony of Hong

Kong off of south-eastern China, an autonomous territory and Special w ROUTES NEWS 2016 ISSUE 5 17

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